This Tintin colour drawing just set a new world record

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Hergé, The Blue Lotus (1936). Photo courtesy of Artcurial.
Hergé, The Blue Lotus (1936). Photo courtesy of Artcurial.
  • In recent years the Tintin series has proven popularity with multiple sales concluding over the million dollar mark. 
  • Made in 1936, the picture is a rejected cover for the fifth volume of The Adventures of Tintin. 
  • The record making picture sold for $3.8 million at Artcurial auction house in Paris. 


A picture by Belgian cartoonist  Hergé (1907–1983) set a new record on 14 January 2021 when it sold for $3.8 million at an auction at Artcurial in Paris. 

In recent years the Tintin series has proven popularity with multiple sales concluding over the million dollar mark. These include a cover of Tintin and The Shooting Star going for $2.9 million in 2015 and the cover of Tintin in the Land of the Soviets going for $1.1 million in 2019. None have come close to the latest sale. 

“This masterpiece of comic art deserves its world record and confirms that the comic-strip market is in excellent health,” said Eric Leroy, the Artcurial auction house’s comic expert in a statement.

Now holding the record for the most expensive piece of comic book art, the 1936 gouache painting was originally meant to be the cover image for the graphic novel The Blue Lotus. Forming part of The Adventures of Tintin series, this fifth volume illustrates Tintin’s travels to China during the Japanese invasion of 1931.

A drawing by Hergé. Courtesy Artcurial.
A drawing by Hergé. Courtesy Artcurial.

However this artwork was too expensive for the comic’s publisher Casterman to reproduce with the four colour printing technique. According to Britannica this technique involves separating the picture that needs to be reproduced into three basic colours plus black, which is used for density and contrast. 

As a result of the high cost of the technical procedures needed to reproduce his work, Hergé struggled to execute his vision of colour comics. That makes this work one of five drawings that Hergé made using the direct-colour technique. 

With The Blue Lotus still needing a cover image, Hergé made a cost effective design and gave the original version to his publisher’s son Jean-Paul Casterman. The work has remained with the family until this sale was made. 

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